Design suggestion box

Sort by “most popular” or some similar descriptor, in the main BBS index view. What are the hot threads?


I like being able to check out new comments since I last visited a thread - but I also would like to be able to read fully nested conversations. How about this, then:

  • it should be possible to expand replies to replies inline, rather than having to jump to a reply in the main trunk and expanding further replies from there, one level at a time;
  • comments that you have already read as replies should appear truncated in the main trunk - instead of the whole comment speech-bubble you should only see a line “[somebody] replied to [somebodyelse]” which would expand to full message when clicked.

Also, middle-clicking URLs, including @-references, attempts to open them in a new window, rather than a new tab, as my browser is set up to handle it. Please fix.

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The infinite scrolling makes it really annoying to spatially navigate in long threads, since it replaces “move the scroll bar to approximate locations” with “hold the scroll bar at one end and wait for the chunks to stream in”. It replaces the “solid” feel of document scrolling with all the joys of jumping around in online videos.


Yeah, i’m of mixed feeling about infinite scroll, too.

  • i have to click through from an article to “start discussion” or see
    more than “notable replies”?

i bet this extra click and confusion
will reduce contributions. i suppose this was a design decision. i’d
personally prefer all the comments and a way to comment in the
article, like before, like every other blog, ever.

  • also, bubbles in article subject don’t show number of replies? fluke?

love the work that goes into this place, content that comes out, and i appreciate the attempts at a better commenting/forum setup!

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This. At least I think this is what I’d prefer.

I’d like to have the option of organizing by thread, and not chronologically -also-. Having replies intermingled with comments as well as stacked Under comments is proving a bit confusing. I’m sure others don’t mind, or have their own preferences, so I guess I just wonder if there is an option to hide the replies and/or keep them attached to the parent comment without having them duplicated later In the thread?

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“jump to later reply” wha?
it seems there are three formats on a reply to an existing comment

  • one with a bubble at the top left “in reply to @whomever
  • i’ve never been able to create one of these
  • oh, they seem to be “later” replies. must have been a fluke when i didn’t get the bubble before.
    • if you click the bubble it shows the post replied to. cool.

  • one that is indented in a grey box

  • one that is later and totally independent down below somewhere

    • the down arrow in the screenshot above seems to jump to these “later” replies

anyone know what the goal is behind these types? i find the last one completely confusing as they are totally out of context. (edit: just click the “in reply to” bubble)
edit: it seems to try to retain the timeframe of the thread while still showing context.

can you like comments that are replies to other comments? (the type that are indented in a grey box):

those “3 people liked this” seems to apply to the parent comment.


i like it in general. i have issues on the main page when i hit “back” from an article and i have to wait for the drill down to populate (especially if i was 5 pages (sometimes one day’s content) deep). but maybe we aren’t talking about that here?

I have to say, I went to sleep, woke up, come on here and visited the new bbs topic which now had over 200 comments and was completely lost. No continuity. I kept clicking the “in reply to x” thing to try and understand context, but after the 30th time, I just gave up. Maybe there is no system that allows that many replies to still be intelligible, but I know this one certainly does not.

The funny thing is, I remember being able to read massive threads on old bbses that had fidonet feeds because they just showed subjects and you’d hit up and down and quickly jump to another branch in the thread if the current one was going nowhere. But just showing subjects would probably look pretty clunky on the web (especially given there are no subject lines here). Plus nostalgia might be affecting my memory of how well it worked.


The ability to toggle between threaded conversations and the way the BBS currently exists would help fix that. Perhaps it already exists and I just haven’t RTFM completely yet.

Slashdot have solved this. Reddit have solved this. It’s not hard; this is just innovation for the sake of innovation.

That’s not to say that some of the innovation here isn’t worthwhile. It’s just, threads please?

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There are many bad things to say about osnews and their commentors, but their comment system and its choice of threaded/strictly chronological really does make it easier to parse long and forking conversations. They also have a head-comment-only mode like @trench describes below, though I’ve never found it too useful.

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I think the general argument against threads, especially within journalism, is that publishers are looking for comments, not (ironically) discourse. Meaning they (not necessarily bb) would rather you share a well thought out comment (singular) about the article, and then just move on to the next. A bit like the old newspaper model.

Discourse, as a product, though, seems to want to belong in the sociosphere of streaming dialog. Meant to be a place where we can do the above, or participate in conversations related to the articles as well as those entirely unrelated to the articles. With this in mind, Discourse does really need to introduce threading.

It doesn’t have to be turned on by default, because maybe not everyone is looking for conversations… but it is a vital ingredient for those of us that do wish to chat in a seamless, public manner.

I’m sure they are working on threads. It seems rather redundant to call a product Discourse and not allow for threaded discourse.

As an aside, an option to allow responses to comments to be made invisible should also also be considered.

Say a select group of users don’t want to read conversations, but would like to just read the serious feedback commentary related to bb articles… they should have that option available to them too.

It works both ways.


Embrace the subjunctive.

You might want to rethink that assumption. :wink:

Some food for thought:


I used to spend a lot of time on Comment Is Free: no threads, so if you wanted to reply to another comment, you quoted the bit you wanted to reply to. That worked … better than threads, honestly.

This isn’t flat, and it isn’t threaded; it’s just – broken.


It does require a modern computer / device / browser, there’s no doubt. Discourse is 100% JavaScript. Try viewing source, there really isn’t any – it’s an app that is delivered via JavaScript to your browser.

Works great on my iPad 4 though, for the record!

There are thread-like features, but you don’t have to use them if they’re not working for you.

In your mind, what’s specifically broken about it? Are you having a hard time using it as a flat discussion?